03-29-2017 09:24 PM - last edited on 03-30-2017 01:13 PM by Ngaio-RO
I'm looking for some suggestions on what I should do about a very disturbing event my 14 year old daughter experienced tonight.
She plays tennis each Wednesday evening and loves it. She is in a group that she has been making friends with and having fun with there. It's the one and only thing she leaves the house for, and her only exercise.
When she got into the car tonight she was nearly in tears, and visibly distressed. There are two boys her age in her goup that she gets on well with. Her favourite of them wasn't there tonight. She told me the other boy was talking about rape - I don't know exactly what, but not nice from my daughter's response. She told him not to talk like that about rape and that it was not okay. Apparently he then said to her 'so you don't like rape talk?' My daugher again told him no, because it's not okay. He then said to her that that was too bad and she should get used to it.
My daughter was sexually assaulted when she was 8, and this talk really upset her. She and I have talked in depth, as she was feeling unworthy, stupid for saying something, and upset because it affected her the way it did. She kept saying she was just too sensitive. I'm so proud of her for saying something! That took courage.
Anyway, my issue is this - what should I do?? My daughter is adamant she doesn't want me to say anything as she is afraid it will open her up to bullying for being a dobber. I understand and respect that. I can't help feeling like it shouldn't just be brushed off though. I'm not sure whether I should have a word to her coach? Should I have a quiet chat with his mum ? Or should I leave it be?
I would love any suggestions. I am stuck on this one!
03-30-2017 09:58 AM
Hey @taokat I'm so sorry to hear your daughter had to go through this but even sorrier that she was sexually assualted. There are no words to convey how unfair and undeserved something like that is.My heart goesa out to you both.
In answer to your question, I think you pretty much did all the things a parent could or should do in that position. You listened to her without shaming or discrediting her. You offered to intervene on her behalf and then respected her wishes when she said she didn't think so.
The best counter to that thoughtless boy is your daughter not masking her distaste and laughing along. He doesn't sound like someone her history would be safe with nor does he sound like someone she's going to be able to sway with a heartfelt explanation of how terrible his words are.
My only two cents worth would be to have a chat to the teacher / instructor about how your daughter has a right to be safe from comments like those when she's in their care. Which is true no matter her history so you don't have to share her experience unless it's something you feel very confident will be kept confidential.
Do you know the tennis coach well? Can you anticipate the response at all?
03-31-2017 03:00 PM
@taokat that is just awful but your daughter sounds like one amazing young woman for having the courage to tell him it was not OK to talk like that. I agree with @Ngaio-RO that a word to the instructor is in order, if nothing more than to have the instructor a little more clued in to what's going on at the lesson.
I also wonder if you have watched 'Audrey & Daisy' - a documentary on Netflix about two girls who were raped, both by boys in their social circle and both with terribly tragic outcomes (I wouldn't watch this with your daughter until you've watched it yourself, but I have talked to my 14 year old twin daughters, & 17 year old son, extensively about it and will watch it with them). The saddest thing that struck me was the complacency of many of the kids (and the adults) in the documentary who not only denied that what occurred was rape but then also shamed and intimidated the girls.
I feel so strongly that we parents need to do something differently to educate both other parents and kids about sexual intimidation. I wonder if you think you're in a position to have this frank discussion with your daughter - that the way this boy made her feel may be the way he makes another person feel, who doesn't have a parent like you that they can turn to for advice but might instead be coerced into a situation they can no longer control.
In the 'Audrey and Daisy' doco one of the girls did eventally met others who had similar experience and they worked together to get back some of the power that was taken away from them not just through the rape but more so through the intimidation and ridicule of those who didn't grasp the seriousness of the situation or were in denial about their involvement.
This has been on my mind since watching the doco and your post just reminds me it is not going away. I'm sure @Ngaio-RO is far more qualified to speak on this topic than I am. My response is pure passion and concern that there is an unconscious complacency in our community about "rape talk". It's a bit like racism. We think we're outraged about sexual harrassment and assault but we seem to have fairly loose definitions of what that is. I hope your daughter is OK, this must have been extremely unsettling for her. She seems to be a very level headed person, which no doubts she gets from you. Good luck with this one. I will be interested to hear how it turns out.
03-31-2017 04:31 PM
What a great response @mum2twins I completely agree with you that the ONLY way we will ever dismantle this acceptance of "locker room talk" and rape culture is to speak out against it. The more parents there are, like yourself and @taokat, and I would guess many more here, the more difficult it will be for boys like that to feel comfortable making comments like that.
When you have a moment @mum2twins could you jump in here to post about Audrey and Daisy please?
03-31-2017 07:46 PM - edited 03-31-2017 07:59 PM
Hi guys, I agree with both your responses whole heartedly . My philosophy is that we ALWAYS call it out . I understand your daughters reluctance , she fears retribution and the " unknown ripples " of her speaking out which is completely understandable , however , if perhaps she was introduced to the bigger picture of the ramifications for him and the wider community she might feel empowered to help facilitate change . By letting the coach know , she is being treated this way , she is not just empowering the coach and helping them to effect change but also helping the boy as then he can get help to understand the true impact of his words and attitude . The coach may tell the parents which would probably be likely as he would have a duty to disclose this to protect himself from future fallout . You are only helping the parents and the child if it is discussed whether the parent takes it on board or not . If it was my son , I would want to know . I would be horrified but would also see it as an opportunity to find out where this terrible view is coming from and educate him on the impact his words have and why . You take a punt every single time you approach a parent about their child's behaviour but it is never a waste of time because it will give you valuable information that will either support you in your desire to help him and subsequently your daughter and other children or you need to make strong decisions about protecting your daughter from being exposed to this boy again if he gets no psycho- education around his behaviour.
This can be an opportunity for your daughter to facilitate real change for the best either way . Help her to feel empowered and make sure she knows she is NEVER alone in dealing with this boy again .
Silence perpetuates . The more we call it out , the more we effect change in beliefs and behaviours . Sexual violence has to be stamped out strategically , and consistently , moment by moment , incident by incident , and it starts with young boys and girls .
Best of luck !
03-31-2017 08:36 PM
@motherbear to your note about talking to the parents of the child - We own a business in a small community and we employ some of the local teens. It was brought to my attention by more than one employee that another employee, a Year 12 in the local private school was taking and possibly (pretty sure) supplying drugs to his "friends". We've known him and his family for 13 years. So I rang his mum and took a deep breath. I made sure to set my personal feelings aside and just present the facts at hand. I also made it very clear there was absolutely no judgement on my part, that kids sometimes get themselves into situations they don't understand but we're in a small community and I would just feel terrible if something happened to him, or worse, to someone he sold drugs to. I didn't say too much and I didn't tell the mother what I thought she should do about it. Once I'd told her what I knew I redirected the conversation to how our sons are doing generally at school (as both our boys are in year 12 at the same school) so we chatted a bit about how difficult parenting teens through their final year of school can be, balancing work and parenting, deciding on unis, etc etc etc.
In this instance the mother was really grateful but interestingly/disappointingly nothing changed. I agree, by talking to the parent of the boy you'll get a better insight into what you're dealing with and whether your daughter should be around this boy any more. As a result of my conversation I've been able to have great conversations with my son about his awareness of drugs and that's been really positive for us.
03-31-2017 08:48 PM
Great response to the parents and your approach was excellent . No one wants to know their kid is being accused and blamed . If it comes from a place of love and concern it is much more easily received and digested . You can never control how others will respond or react but leaving it with them is a gift. Nothing may change now or ever , but you did you are part as a responsible caring friend . That is all we can do . It may take many episodes like this in their family life for this to register and you have helped this process . The universe gives us little warnings if we take no heed they get bigger and louder . Well done to you .
03-31-2017 09:36 PM
@Ngaio-RO, @mum2twins and @motherbear - thank you all so much for your thoughts and suggestions! Such useful and helpful information that I really appreciate.
It's a sensitive situation as I don't want to break trust with my daughter, but I do feel like it shouldn't just be moved on from and 'forgotten' about.
I think I will organise to meet with the coach at a different time to my daughter's lesson. I don't actually know the mother of the boy but I do know which car she drives, and could possibly talk to her in the carpark while we're waiting for the kids to finish.
I agree @motherbear that it could be a great opportunity for the boy to also learn. I would want to know as well, it's the only way we can help our kids traverse these slippery slopes and change their faulty thinking.
My daughter is afraid of the ramifications that could come back her way, but I have had a good talk to her about the fact that with so many sensitive issues, people keep quiet out of fear, but when someone does stand up, so many are grateful for it. People won't always back you up in the moment, but in a quiet moment they will say thank you.
And thank you @Ngaio-RO, it is a horrible thing for a child to go through, and causes problems young kids don't even understand. It is one of humanities sickest flaws. I don't understand how it can happen but it happens way too much.
Thank you all for your support, and I will keep you updated.
04-02-2017 12:19 PM
Hi @motherbear, @mum2twins and @Ngaio-RO,
Ok, I have resolved to have a quiet word with the coach about all of this for these 2 reasons -
a) I would like the coach to be aware that this conversation has occurred. He may need to monitor the groups a little more closely.
b) Because this is my daughter's only activity that she loves and looks forward to. She has been on and off with it over the years, dependant on her psychological state, and has just gotten back into playing this year. I don't want her to be turned off going for something like that.
I have read and really considered the benefits outlined here of talking to the boys mum, but I'm still up in the air about it.
I completely agree with all reasons provided. My only concern is trust with my daughter. She has made it clear she wants nothing further to be done, and I really am concerned that if I speak with the mum, she will feel I have betrayed her trust. Trust is such an important thing to have - it's the golden key. My daughter's turning 15 in a couple of weeks, and we have built a very trusting relationship over the last few years, and I don't want to lose that.
What are your thoughts or suggestions?
04-02-2017 09:19 PM
@taokat trust is everything, as is your daughter's well being, so you should do exactly what your instinct and experience with your daughter tells you to do.
It sounds as though she has worked so hard to be where she is now (and I imagine you have worked hard alongside her) and she deserves to be comfortable and happy at her tennis lessons. If talking to the boy's mother is going to make her uncomfortable, she doesn't deserve that.
We talk about power and empowerment and the opportunity to think of the bigger picture but your daughter is only 15 (well, nearly) and it sounds like this is not the right time to place a fairly heavy burden squarely on her shoulders. She did an amazing thing when she told these boys their conversation was unacceptable to her - most kids her age wouldn't have the courage to do that. The fact that she is so comfortable talking to you about it, well, for me, you just don't want to take that away right now. She sounds like the sort of person who's going to do amazing things in her life and sadly there'll probably be plenty of times she encounters ignorant bullies and no doubt she'll be the sort of person who makes huge changes in the world, for the better.
I think that perhaps this time around she just deserves a huge amount of respect for speaking out as she did, a big hug, and the chance to keep enjoying the tennis lessons. I wish I could tell her how proud I am of her for the fact that she stood up for herself but I'm sure you can do that for me.